Here’s a short but insightful clip on wherein Al Gore discusses the utterly central role television plays in public opinion.

I think some of us — I’m guilty as well — get caught up in the excitement when we see blogs and newspapers buzzing with a story or adopting a view. It’s easy to forget that all other extant forms of mass communication pale in significance before television. For the vast majority of Americans, if it’s not on the teevee, it doesn’t exist.

To get a sense of what Average Joe and Jane hear about climate change, it does no good to point to reports or posts or print stories. What matters is what gets said on the nightly news, on cable news, and most importantly, on the 98% of TV content that isn’t news at all.